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  • Place of origin:

    Etruria (jasper, made)
    Birmingham (steel, probably, made)

  • Date:

    1785-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Jasperware, mounted in cut steel

  • Museum number:

    276 to N-1866

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 1 []

Object Type
These buttons are for a man's formal coat. Large buttons became fashionable in the 1780s. By this date they were entirely decorative, as the coat was usually worn open over a matching waistcoat. The waistcoat would have had a set of smaller, matching buttons.

The Staffordshire potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) sold small quantities of steel-mounted Jasper medallions in his London showrooms, but the majority were mounted and sold by other manufacturers. According to his catalogue of 1779, the price of cameos with 'several Figures' was 'ten Times less than any other durable Imitations that have ever been made in Europe'.

Materials & Making
Steel was relatively inexpensive, but the labour-intensive facetting on the best cut-steel work made it costly. The cut-steel mounts on Wedgwood's Jasper are often attributed to the great Birmingham industrialist Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), a friend and rival of Wedgwood's. However, Wedgwood also sold Jasper for mounting to others, including Green & Vale of Birmingham and Vernon & Hasselwood of Wolverhampton. Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Woodstock were the chief centres for cut-steel.

Physical description

Buttons of blue jasperware with white relief, mounted in cut steel.

Place of Origin

Etruria (jasper, made)
Birmingham (steel, probably, made)


1785-1800 (made)


Josiah Wedgwood and Sons (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Jasperware, mounted in cut steel


Diameter: 3.2 cm

Object history note

Steel probably made in Birmingham; Jasper made at Josiah Wedgwood's factory, Etruria, Staffordshire

Descriptive line

A set of twelve buttons, blue jasperware with a white relief, mounted in cut steel, made by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons in Etruria, the steel probably Birmingham, 1785-1800

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

ill. p.147
Mason, Shena (Ed.), Matthew Boulton: selling what all the world desires, Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, 2009

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The vogue for large buttons began in France and was taken up in England in the 1780s. It encouraged the use of decorative materials like cut steel. The large buttons are from a man's dress coat; the smaller ones are from the waistcoat or cuffs of the coat sleeves. [27/03/2003]


Jasper ware; Steel


Ceramics; Accessories; Europeana Fashion Project


Ceramics Collection

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